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16 Feb 2002

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At Christmas a friend from Hong Kong visited and left $100 with us to donate to a local charity. Since that time we have been asking friends to suggest a suitable small organisation that works with children. Early this morning we met up with our friend Dara to visit a fairly new children's centre in the provinces, about 50 Km from Phnom Penh. It was set up by Save the Children France to provide a place for farmers to leave their children during the day while they go off to work the land, and to provide basic education before the children start school proper at age seven. The centre is a simple wooden structure with a raised platform at one end (but no chairs or desks) and a slide and swings outside; neat and functional, but obviously constructed on a budget. The centre has a local management committee and is now self-funding - they sell locally made charcoal and building stones to the surrounding villages and earn about $20 per month, enough to pay (very badly!) three local teachers for five mornings a week. It was a humbling experience to visit a relatively poor community such as this, but wonderful to see what can be achieved with a little external help and a lot of local effort.